Making a good pastry is one of life’s simple tasks. The trick is it not to overthink it, or overwork it. It is made from the most basic of ingredients: flour, fat, water & salt. These can be enhanced with a bit of sugar & vinegar, but essentially that’s all that goes in a great pastry. The sugar is to sweeten it, while the vinegar helps to keep the gluten in check. The acid in the vinegar helps to keep the gluten from overdeveloping, which helps to create a tender, flaky crust. However the most important keys to achieving a flaky crust are to use cold fats, and to not overwork the dough.
Measure your fats by weight, and you’ll get a better product. Allow for 7 oz. of combined fats per two-crust pie. You can vary the fats as long as you stick to the correct weight ratio. I prefer a mix of shortening & butter. Remember if using lard that your pie will not be vegetarian if that’s a concern.
When baking pies, make your pastry first, let it set covered in the fridge for at least an hour (or up to a day) while you prepare your fruit. Continue reading